FOUR calm and clinical penalties and an outstanding save took Braintree Town through to the third round of the FA Trophy after 90 minutes’ play had failed to separate them from their hosts Billericay Town on Tuesday, writes RON FOSKER.

In each case, the penalty takers – Rhodell Gordon, Matt Johnson, Johnville Renee and substitute Jake Clowsley – sent keeper Dion Curtis-Henry the wrong way.

On the other hand Iron keeper Simon Jackson, on his debut, guessed correctly which way the first two penalties were heading. The first, from Frankie Sutherland, was too powerful, but he leaped high to his left when he was next called into action to foil Jake Nickless.

After Braintree’s fourth penalty went in, Billericay substitute Joe Felix knew he had to score but fluffed his lines completely and sent the ball over the bar.

The result was a just reward for a solid Iron display with a side that showed six changes from their last outing, with several players cup-tied.

In addition to Jackson, Mack Miskin at full back and Gabriel Piorkowski on the left wing were also making their debuts, as were all three substitutes, Luke Holness, Danny McCulloch and Clowsley.

The match itself was a slow burner that only came to life after the hour mark.

Up to that point Billericay had only had one shot on target, Kyran Clements blocking Doug Loft’s shot from outside the area, but came desperately close to taking the lead when Jackson got down superbly to thwart Jake Robinson, who must have been convinced his header from about four metres was on its way into the net.

A minute later the ball was in the net. It was an almost identical move, with a cross whipped in from the right wing, but this time Robinson was the provider. The defence failed to cut out his cross and Ruben Soares Jr was on hand at the far post to tap it into the net.

Braintree upped the tempo after going behind and were rewarded when Arjan Krasniqi slammed in a piledriver from the angle of the penalty area. Like the later penalties, Curtis-Henry got nowhere near it.

With no further goalmouth action of any note, the game moved to penalties and Braintree moved into the third round, where they will travel to Havant and Waterlooville, winners over Bracknell, on Saturday.

Braintree: Simon Jackson; Johnville Renee, Taofiq Olomowewe, George Allen, Kyran Clements, Mack Miskin; Rhodell Gordon, Matt Johnson, Arjan Krasniqi, Gabriel Piorkowski. Substitutes: Jake Clowsley, Luke Holness, Danny McCulloch